Living or striving for a near zero waste lifestyle is a big adventure in attitude. If you give it a try, you’ll be amazed at how little trash you really have to make. At first it will take a lot of self-control, but after a short while it will become second nature. You’ll even feel self-appreciation and pride for living with less trash.

Americans, on average, create up to 1,000,000 pounds of waste per year. Imagine 65,000 garbage trucks filled every day. It’s hard to visualize, but if you placed them end-to-end for a full year, they would reach halfway to the moon. [Source – PDF]

It doesn’t take much to do a lot.


Photo credit Tammy Strobel

If we all change a few of our throw away habits and strive toward a near zero waste lifestyle, together we will prevent thousands of tons of landfill trash, improve air and water quality and save a bit of cha-ching in the process.

Reduce your “wasteberg” in two easy steps.

Step One:

Take a home inventory. Start with one day or a week. Count how much waste you create and how many single-use items you use. Use the guide below to get some ideas of what to count.

Step Two:

Choose two to four items from your inventory for you and your family to start with. Select the items that will reduce your waste easily and will have the biggest impact quickly. Commit to shopping mindfully to replace your items. Commit to refusing single-use items daily and carrying reusable bags, bottles, cups, etc., to make it easy.

Try counting the following:

  • Plastic bottles and containers (count types and numbers on bottom)
  • Food packaging — plastic, cardboard, mixed material
  • Single-use cups, straws, lids
  • To-go containers
  • Plastic bags, film and wrap
  • Foil or mixed material wrappers and packaging

Rethink single-use.

The easiest way to reduce your wasteberg is to simply say no to non-renewable plastic packaging, bottled water and other beverages. Also refuse single-use cups, straws, lids, picnicware, wipes and bags. Embrace Truckee’s bag ban and inspire others to reduce their wasteberg, too. Reuse and recycle right.


Want to take it to a higher level? Follow these gurus and get more information on adopting a near zero waste lifestyle.